Will the Catholic Church ever have women priests? Well, Pope Francis has clearly said no to such a suggestion. “It will stand forever,” he said on Tuesday, as reported by Reuters.
The comment came when a Swedish women journalist asked the Pope whether or not someday women would become Catholic priests and bishops, giving the example of the head of Sweden’s Lutheran Church who had welcomed Francis to the country.
“St. Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this and it stands,” Francis stated during a news conference aboard the papal plane on the flight back to Rome, according to Reuters.
When the journalist reportedly kept on asking: “But forever, forever? Never, never?” Francis responded: “If we read carefully the declaration by St. John Paul II, it is going in that direction.”
Francis referred to the Apostolic letter by Pope John Paul, written a 1994, which documented that opting for priesthood is a closed door for women. The Vatican states this teaching as an infallible part of Catholic tradition.
John Paul II wrote: “in some places it is nonetheless considered open to debate”. Not so, wrote the pope who died in 2005 and was canonized a saint in 2014.
“Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren, I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”
Reacting to the comment, The Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC), a group that promotes female priesthood, said in a statement that “patriarchy will not have the last word” and that they are “profoundly disappointed by the pope’s comments, the document the pope referred to is outdated, fallible and painful”.
The Church had banned women from becoming deacons centuries ago. However, in August this year, Pope Francis had given charge to a commission to conduct research about women deacons’ roles in early Christianity. This certainly raised hopes among women. But with the latest statement, it wouldn’t be too rude to say that equality is far from the 1.2 billion-member Church.
Feature Image Credit: KHOU.com
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